Saturday, November 4, 2017

Creating Our Haven Despite Environmental Challenges

Despite our inhospitable terrain Todd and I are slowly transforming our rocky ridge into a place of beauty. Of course our 5 year landscaping plan has morphed into a 20-25 year plan. By trial and error we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. The learning curve has been harsh at times because we didn’t know what we did not know. We both grew up in the Midwest where the soil was rich, planting was easy, grass was ubiquitous, one could use a shovel to dig a hole, and  a little fertilizer created lushness.

Not so in our neck of the woods.Landscape experts and nurseries advise to amend the soil, test for PH levels, and then add nutrients needed for the type of plant. That is all well and good if one actually has soil. Our land is so rocky that we have to rent a bobcat with a 28 inch auger to dig holes large enough to plant trees or larger shrubs; buy soil,  peat moss, fertilizer and Biotone to give the plants a chance; mulch, amend, mulch again; and hope the plant gods are with us. 

Despite the misjudgments and foolhardy experiments it appears we’ve finally made progress and are on the verge of creating the nirvana that we seek. Within 5 years the area surrounding our deck should be the lush garden filled with mature Japanese maple trees, shade loving perennials, grasses,rhododendrons, day lilies, hostas, ornamental trees, shade loving ground cover and bulbs of every kind. It has been and continues to be worth the effort.
We fend off  evil deer that munch on our plants and attack our trees. Our bird feeders and bird houses attract gorgeous songbirds; we’ve expanded our deck to include our grill, wood burning pizza oven and Weber smoker; vines are finally enveloping our pergolas; and our fountain provides a zen ambiance as we sip coffee or wine on the screened in porch or deck. 

As of today we still need to purchase and plant 18 more trees [12 fruit, 1 pecan, 4 white pine,  and 1 fir], 8 rhododendrons, 1 rose bush, 200 bulbs, at least 250 ground cover, and the raised vegetable garden that we plan to establish next spring. This is progress. Of course the plan depends upon the success of what we have recently planted. But I am ever optimistic and in any event the time I spend landscaping is therapeutic. It is not possible to think about my day job when I am digging, hauling, transforming or embracing the land. And I am ever filled with gratitude that my father shared his love of gardening and landscaping with me. This is where I see God. The beauty of nature, the miracle of cultivation and the results from my physical labor fill me with the wonder of the Universe and the acceptance that there is a higher power. I could not do this alone.

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